England - A New Look Team Under A New Skipper
For a very long time, few would have considered England to be World Cup dark horses. Conservative, defensive and unimaginative were qualities attributed to the English side. Losing their best short-format player to controversies and fallouts didn’t help either. Yet, somewhere in the last few months, sanity prevailed and so did the resurrection.
For a start, they picked a ‘rebel’ for captain, Eoin Morgan. One of England’s most trustworthy knights in the shorter formats of the game, Morgan started with Ireland and won a lot of English hearts. He thinks differently, attacks differently and even feels differently, if some of his calculated comments over English cricket were to be believed.
The new-look England has gumption, like they showed against defending champions India in the Carlton Mid tri-Series. Yet, they are still undercooked as they showed against their defeat in the warm-up match played against Pakistan. However, the team has potential and quite a bit of experience, which might serve them well in a tough pool that has both the hosts, playing in sublime form.
England have Jos Buttler for vice-captain, a 24-year-old, who is shaking up the way English kids play their cricket now, specifically with the bat. While Ian Bell and Moeen Ali offer them steady starts and Gary Ballance does the balancing act, England currently relies on Joe Root, Morgan, Ravi Bopara and Buttler to provide the final impact. Alex Hales might come in at the some point into the equation if the English prefer more firepower in their already solid batting line-up. The bowling is well-served by Chris Woakes, James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Steven Finn.
England look like a side who can compete. They still haven’t played enough with their new-found freedom and expression, the ideology they will take a while to adopt and adapt to, completely. However, if they had to fail at the big stage, this is a team that can at least fail in style and that is not such a bad thing for English cricket right now. On the big match day, it could come down to how the makeshift all-rounders in Chris Jordan, Broad, Bopara and Moeen contribute to the team’s cause.
Previous Tournament Performances:
England is considered one of the unluckiest teams going around, having been defeated in World Cup finals thrice, once by West Indies in 1979, once by Australia in 1987 (a final they should have won if not for the famous Gatting reverse sweep) and then again by Pakistan in 1992. Since then, England haven’t showed up at all in many ways. This edition could be different, given the conditions are in their favor to a certain extent.
14th February – Australia v England in Melbourne
20th February – New Zealand v England in Wellington
23rd February – England v Scotland in Christchurch
1st March – England v Sri Lanka in Wellington
9th March – England v Adelaide in Adelaide
13th March – Afghanistan v England in Sydney
Recent Form (last 10 ODIs):
(recent) L, W, L, W, L, L, L, W, L, W
England have a W/L ratio of 1.560 in World Cups which is third behind Australia and South Africa. They have won 39 and lost 25 games.
England are the only team to have played three World Cup finals without winning one. Australia have been to six finals, while India, West Indies and Sri Lanka have been to three as well.
Players to Watch:
Jos Buttler, wicket-keeper batsman, is capable of playing swashbuckling innings, of the sort where the strike rate hovers over 150 right through. With the right launching pad, he could lay into the bowlers and give the team the final push they need to get big scores.
Joe Root is England’s best batsman at the moment, smart enough to be heir-apparent and technically correct. More importantly, he runs well between the wickets and has the cheeky shots in his repertoire too, making him ideal for No.4.
Steven Finn coming back from an injury is England’s X-factor. His form will determine how much of a challenge the English team will pose to others. Tall and fast, Steven Finn already has a five-for in his comeback streak, against India, but he needs to be more consistent in a long tournament.
England have Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka to deal with in their pool. Finishing third will be, in many ways, an over-achievement. That is likely to pit them against India or Pakistan in the quarter-finals, two teams susceptible to quality pace bowling. That could be their best chance for a semi-final appearance, something that hasn’t happened in a very long time!
© Cricket World 2015